So while this compromise didn't contain everything I wanted or everything that these families wanted, it did represent progress. It represented moderation and common sense. That's why 90 percent of the American people supported it.
But instead of supporting this compromise, the gun lobby and its allies willfully lied about the bill. They claimed that it would create some sort of "Big Brother" gun registry, even though the bill did the opposite. This legislation in fact outlawed any registry, plain and simple, right there in the text. But that didn't matter. And unfortunately, this pattern of spreading untruths about this legislation served a purpose, because those lies upset an intense minority of gun owners, and that in turn intimidated a lot of senators.
White House press secretary Jay Carney demanded an explanation from Senators who are voting against the gun control bill which would expand background checks.
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And I talked to several of these senators over the past few weeks, and they're all good people. I know all of them were shocked by tragedies like Newtown. And I also understand that they come from states that are strongly pro-gun, and I have consistently said that there are regional differences when it comes to guns and that both sides have to listen to each other.
But the fact is, most of these senators could not offer any good reason why we wouldn't want to make it harder for criminals and those with severe mental illnesses to buy a gun. There were no coherent arguments as to why we wouldn't do this. It came down to politics. They worried that that vocal minority of gun-owners would come after them in future elections. They worried that the gun lobby would spend a lot of money and paint them as anti-Second Amendment. And obviously a lot of Republicans had that fear, but Democrats had that fear, too. And so they caved to the pressure, and they started looking for an excuse, any excuse, to vote no.
One common argument I heard was that this legislation wouldn't prevent all future massacres. And that's true. As I said from the start, no single piece of legislation can stop every act of violence and evil. We learned that tragically just two days ago. But if action by Congress could have saved one person, one child, a few hundred, a few thousand; if it could've prevented those people from losing their lives to gun violence in the future while preserving our Second Amendment rights, we had an obligation to try. And this legislation met that test. And too many senators failed theirs.
I've heard some say that blocking this step would be a victory. And my question is, a victory for who?
A victory for what?
All that happened today was the preservation of the loophole that lets dangerous criminals buy guns without a background check. That didn't make our kids safer. Victory for not doing something that 90 percent of Americans, 80 percent of Republicans, the vast majority of your constituents wanted to get done? It begs the question, who are we here to represent?
I've heard folks say that having the families of victims lobby for this legislation was somehow misplaced. A prop, somebody called them. Emotional blackmail, some outlets said. Are they serious? Do we really think that thousands of families whose lives have been shattered by gun violence don't have a right to weigh in on this issue? Do we think their -- their emotions, their loss is not relevant to this debate?